Microsoft adds new Teams calling features and holds off on others

Microsoft is rolling out its new Advanced Communications Plan for M365/O365 subscribers, while it puts some other anticipated calling plans on ice.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft is announcing some new calling-related features for Teams. It also is postponing some additional calling features that it was expected to add as of August 1.

Microsoft is announcing officially today a new Advanced Communications plan, which officials said can be added to any Microsoft 365 or Office 365 paid subscription. This plan is available as of this week and is also available via a 60-day free trial via the Teams Admin Center or via the Microsoft Teams website starting in mid-August.

The Microsoft Teams "Advanced Communication" add-on license is available as of August 1, 2020. The license will be $12 per user per month, as noted by Tom Arbuthnot, a specialist Unified Communications Solutions Architect and Microsoft Most Valuable Professional, on his "Tom Talks" blog.

As of this week, Advanced Communication licensees will be able to conduct live events of up to 20,000 participants (50 concurrent meetings per tenant of up to 16 hours length); compliance policy call recording Graph API access; and contact center solution Graph API access. Arbuthnot said that Microsoft officials said they would add more tools and customizations to this SKU through 2020 including:

  • 1,000-person interactive Teams meetings
  • Large overflow meetings of up to 20,000 attendees
  • Custom-branded meeting lobby controls

Microsoft also announced/reannounced today as part of its Teams calling line-up:

  • Extended support for Skype for Business (3PIP) phones beyond 2023
  • Support for core calling features on SIP phones from Cisco, Yealink, Polycom, and others with Teams. Support for SIP phones will be available in the first half of 2021.
  • New Teams phones from AudioCodes, Poly, Yealink starting early 2021.
  • New USB peripherals that have dial pads and a modern Teams user interface for heavy call user later this year

Microsoft also seemingly was on tap to announce new 120-minute-per-month domestic user calling plans for E5 users in eight countries for no additional cost, but as Arbuthnot noted, it seems Microsoft withdrew this license option. If and when this ever comes to market, E5 will ship as a full phone system with PSTN connectivity and user phone numbers/minutes included in the single license, he said.

Microsoft's intended  "Microsoft 365 Enterprise Voice" offering, was to be a combination of Phone System, Audio Conferencing, Domestic Calling Plans and the 120 minutes of domestic outbound calling as part of Plan 1. 

I asked for more information and was told Microsoft had nothing further to say beyond today's blog post. 

On the company's documentation site, Microsoft officials told partners that the company had decided against launching Enterprise Voice and E5/A5 with Calling Minutes "due to rapidly evolving market conditions." Officials said they don't know when or whether they will launch Enterprise Voice and E5/A5 with Calling Minutes at some point later.

Update: A Microsoft spokesperson added some context after my article was published regarding the decision to hold back on the 120-minute calling plans: "We make updates to our price lists well in advance of any changes to give our customers visibility so they can plan accordingly. Given the fact that we regularly engage with customers and partners to validate offerings and understand their needs, we've readjusted based on their feedback. The direct routing offering is still a way for customers to have various calling plans to turn to, and our goal is to meet our customers where they are by supporting their various ecosystems."

Finally, in case anyone forgot, we are about "="" skype="" for="" business="" online"=""> to make way for Teams. As of July 31, 2021, Skype for Business Online will no longer be accessible.

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